A View to a Kill (1985)

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Roger Moore’s much-maligned final outing as James Bond is often cited by fans as the worst in the franchise, yet I’ve always had a soft spot for it and consider it one of the best despite its flaws.

It’s not a perfect film, but it has a great deal more going for it than many give it credit for: An editor and second unit director on three previous Bond films, John Glen’s  five-film spell in the director’s chair yielded mixed results: his work on For Your Eyes Only and The Living Daylights is impressive whereas Licence to Kill and Octopussy are bland and uninspired. A View to a Kill is one of the better-directed films of his tenure, lending great excitement to the numerous set pieces. The stunt work in the ski chase is awesome; the Eiffel Tower chase and subsequent pursuit through Paris is electrifying and one of the best car chases in the series; the elevator escape and fire truck chase is well-shot and a lot of fun. The vertigo-inducing Golden Gate finale is thrilling; Tanya Roberts – though admittedly a terrible actress – is extremely beautiful and her Stacey Sutton is a refreshingly different breed of Bond girl because she’s intelligent, independent, and while she flashes some leg on a couple of occasions doesn’t lounge around in skimpy clothing or serve as mere eye candy: she’s Bond’s equal, an invaluable asset in foiling Zorin’s plans. Zorin himself is suitably psychopathic as played by Christopher Walken, May Day is a memorable Bond girl and the two make fine villains. John Barry’s typically lush  score is beautiful (with Snow Job being my single favourite piece of music from the entire series despite the awful title) and the title song/sequence dramatic. The mine shaft set is worthy of Ken Adam at his best and its flooding makes for a spectacular set piece. Pleasingly there is no over-reliance on gadgets, something all Bond fans should applaud.

As for the bad? May Day raping Bond is pretty embarrassing, although the sequence is mercifully brief; by Rog’s own admission it’s a little pathetic that all the henchmen he beats up are over fifty to make it look plausible; the steeplechase is too over-the-top and sits ill-at-ease with the generally realistic (by Bond standards) tone. Zorin’s scheme is ripped off not only from Goldfinger but Superman – released a mere seven years previously – as well. But honestly I consider all these things very minor.

Overall I love it. It’s a hugely enjoyable experience from start to finish, and if you approach it with an open mind and ignore the fact you’re supposed to hate it, you might just enjoy yourself too. But then again I also loved Moonraker so what do I know?

Director: John Glen
Stars: Roger Moore, Christopher Walken, Tanya Roberts
Runtime: 131 min
Country: UK, USA

Film Rating: ★★★★½

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